Cara's Reviews > The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
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Apr 12, 10

bookshelves: food
Read from April 06 to 11, 2010

A bit sing-songy in tone (now I'm curious as to how the adult version reads!) but interesting so far.
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I really enjoyed reading this book, often despite its content. The author reveals the "food chain" that leads to each of four different kinds of meals: industrial/processed; industrial "organic"; truly organic, sustainable farming; and hunter/gatherer. Of course we start with the most appalling first.

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I was already beginning to get on the bandwagon for locally grown organic produce and meat from well-treated animals. Whereas that book enticed me with the positives of happy animals, better taste, and better health, I suspected that if I read this book, it would compel me with horrifying images of animal torture. To be honest, I didn't exactly want to read this one because I had a feeling that if I knew everything in it, I wouldn't be able to enjoy eating "regular" food any more. But I figured if that was what I thought, I better darn well read it, so I did. Sure enough...

Luckily I already have a good source of local eggs from well-treated chickens, but I don't know what I'm going to do about meat. Craving a steak, I went to the closest thing we have to Whole Foods in town to see if they had any truly grass-fed beef (not just beef that was fed grass up until the last 6 months of its life then sent to feed lot hell, which is apparently standard operating procedure, argh!). The meat department guy cheerfully assured me that all their meat was grass fed, in direct contradiction to the sign on the refrigerator case, which proclaimed "100% grain-fed beef!" Plus the meat was all dyed red. Imagining cows crowded onto massive heaps of poo as I looked at the freakish swirls of pink dyed fat in this meat, I wanted to hurl. I fled. Don't know when I'll be eating steak again. When it shows up on Grow Alabama or I get around to contacting some nearby beef farmers, I guess. That's bad enough, but I don't eat beef that much. Chicken, on the other hand!

In short, I really didn't want another problem to solve, and I'm not about to give up eating meat, but now that I've read this book, I can't in good conscience go on eating regular meat from agribusiness. Sigh. As unexcited as I am about this, I believe it's a good thing in the long run--I wish we'd all get out of the cruel, artificial, and incredibly wasteful agribusiness scheme. As more people become informed, I hope it becomes easier to do so.

One thing that pissed me off, though: At the end, there's a little guide for kids wanting to put their new-found beliefs from this book into practice. How to do that: beg for local organic produce instead of Lucky Charms, try to start a garden, etc. etc... and get your mom to teach you to cook. If she doesn't know how, get a cook book and try making recipes. Excuse me, but wtf? Despite Pollan being male and talking about his enjoyment of cooking, apparently it completely fails to cross his mind that Dad might know how to cook or interact with the children! How stupid.
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